Cloud ensured business as usual in the floods

How ‘the cloud’ helped Catch 22 ensure business as usual in the floods

Joseph Blass, CEO, WorkPlaceLive Limited, www.workplacelive.com

A growing number of charities are embracing the cloud to improve their IT usage, reduce administration time and costs and enable their staff to work flexibly and remotely. The technology is also helping some organisations cope with unforeseen eventualities and ensure business as usual when bad weather or transports strikes hit which can prevent employees making it into the office.

One charity that has embraced cloud computing is Catch22, a social business providing services to troubled and vulnerable people throughout the UK. The charity’s main office is located in Brasted in Kent, an area that was severely hit by the flooding in January this year.  However, the charity was able to continue to run and provide services thanks to a Cloud-based Hosted Desktop System technology from WorkplaceLive.

The Federation of Small Businesses[i] estimated that the UK floods in January this year cost small firms £830 million, with the average cost per business in flood-hit areas being £1,531 – largely due to staff absences and a decline in productivity. Moving to a cloud-based system meant employees at Catch22 could continue to work seamlessly from home when the office was closed for four days, with no loss to productivity.

Catch22’s ICT Systems Manager Terri McNally commented: “Many local employees couldn’t get into the office due to flooding in surrounding areas. When the office was at risk of flooding, we also needed to close for a few days. We were able to ensure business continued to run as a result of the hosted desktop service. This enabled all our staff (not just staff in Kent) to access all their files, software, databases and documents and work from home.”

Catch22 adopted the hosted desktop technology 12 years ago. Prior to moving into the cloud, the charity worked with a series of small local networks within each office base, which didn’t offer complete business continuity, should an unforeseen event such as flooding occur.

Catch22 required an IT system that could provide standardised IT access for all employees across 100 sites in the UK, as well as the highest levels of security to ensure people’s data was protected at all times. The cloud-based based hosted desktop solution provided the most effective, stable, affordable and reliable system on the market.

As well as the ability to offer flexible working and enabling people to work remotely and at home, another of the benefit for Catch22 is the ability to add new users onto the system easily, as the organisation expands.

Ms McNally said: “At the end of 2013 we acquired a charity called include, an alternative education provider delivering full-time primary, secondary and post-16 for young people aged 5 to 18 years old. The acquisition added a further 130 extra desktops to our IT system across 16 sites, which we were able to incorporate easily and cost-effectively into our own network.”

Catch22 also enjoys greater control over its IT expenditure, paying a low monthly fee per user which makes it easy to keep track of IT spending. In the past, licensing management had been resource intensive; however, the licensing is now professionally managed by WorkPlaceLive, which has taken away a burden from the IT manager.

However, the biggest advantage has been the ability for employees to work remotely, and with the recent flooding, and other bad weather over the past few years, this has proved invaluable. It has also meant that they can easily meet requests from staff under the new flexible working laws as they have the ability to offer remote working.

Ms McNally adds: “Whatever eventuality, from floods, snow and wind, to power failures or transport issues, we can cope with them all. With many of our staff living in rural locations or with office sites in flood risk areas, we are confident we will always have continuity of service. Our staff can access their desktops from anywhere with an internet connection, so we can work in a more flexible way – either from home or an office.”

[i] http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/05/uk-floods-cost-small-firms-830million-pounds

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